Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a colon condition characterized by chronic abdominal discomfort or pain, gas & bloating and frequent diarrhea and/or constipation.  IBS is a condition that affects approximately 15% of the United States population.  Also known as a spastic colon, IBS is not a disease or life-threatening condition, but it does affect the quality of life.  The frequency and urgency of bowel movements cause individuals with IBS to restrict their lives to avoid embarrassing episodes. 

Irritable bowel syndrome will exhibit itself in one of four classifications.  IBS-D is where diarrhea is predominant, IBS-C is where constipation is predominant and IBS-A involves cases where pain is predominant.  IBS-PI refers to “post infection”, a classification not based on a symptom but how the condition was triggered. 

IBS normally shows up between the late teen years and the early forties.  The cause of the condition has been speculated for over 200 years, but there is no real consensus in the medical community.  There is no test for IBS, so cases are diagnosed by ruling out other conditions and diseases.  Doctors test for food allergies, intolerances (i.e. lactose intolerance), medications that might trigger similar symptoms, infections, enzyme deficiencies and inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.  Once all of these possibilities are ruled out, IBS can be diagnosed.

Management of the symptoms is the only option for sufferers of IBS.  Knowing the “triggers” is usually the first step for people with IBS.  The most commons triggers have to do with stress levels, diet and lifestyle.  Finding a personal balance within these areas can help people with irritable bowel syndrome live a more regular life.

Control of the condition requires dedicated lifestyle changes like eliminating caffeine and cigarettes. Exercise is a great way to manage stress levels.  Not only does it take your mind off the stressful aspects of your life, but it raises endorphins.  Endorphins in the brain directly combat the effects of stress or anxiety. 

Dietary triggers are sometimes the hardest to nail down because it requires an individual to account for all foods ingested in order to find what one’s personal triggers are.  Eating smaller meals and keeping a food diary are methods that some people find helpful for investigating their triggers.  Some of the most common & documented food "triggers" are red peppers, green onions, red wine, wheat, and milk.  Restricting the diet to avoid triggers is one side of the equation, but adding beneficial elements to your diet is the other side of required dietary management.

Exploring helpful supplements are also an important part of dietary management.  Probiotics for instance, are the good bacteria found in the intestines that prevent diarrhea.  You can take probiotics through supplements or by simply eat yogurt.  Micronized zeolite supplement are also beneficial and proven to stop & prevent diarrhea.  Usually found in capsule form, zeolite diarrhea supplements have shown to work quickly with more effectiveness than over the counter diarrhea drugs.  Over the counter diarrhea drugs are effective in 50% of the population while zeolite diarrhea supplement are effective in 80%. 

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